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Safeway strike looms as contract talks stall


Denver Safeway said Wednesday that little progress has been made in talks between the grocer and unionized Colorado grocery workers regarding a new contract.

Pension benefits remain the primary topic of dispute.

Safeway said negotiators for United Food and Commercial Workers Local 7 presented a proposal Tuesday that isn't much different from one made in September, so Safeway isn't willing to change its position either.

UFCW Local 7 says Safeway hasn't been willing to meet workers halfway. The union said its members "passed a motion for the strike to start as soon as final strike sanction is released from the International Union. International Union representatives stated they did not know when final strike sanction would be released, but it could be as early as a day or two."

The workers' last long-term contract expired in May.

The union represents about 17,000 workers at Safeway, King Soopers, City Market and Albertsons.

Contract talks have been underway between union workers and the grocery chains for more than six months. Safeway workers already have voted twice to approve a strike if necessary.

UFCW members rejected what the stores called their final contract offer in a vote in early October, but Tuesday's talks were then scheduled.

No new negotiation dates have been set.

Both companies -- Pleasanton, Calif.-based Safeway and Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., parent of Colorado's King Soopers and City Markets stores -- say they have a replacement work force lined up in case of a strike.

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